Published 2020-02-19

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New Mistra Board member Anna Jakobson focuses on sustainable investments

Anna Jakobson is a new member Mistra’s Board. With her long experience in banking and the financial sector, she wants to join in developing Mistra’s asset management further — preferably guided by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The Swedish Government recently appointed Jakobson as a Mistra Board member for the next three years — an assignment to which she is greatly looking forward.

‘Mistra’s an inspirational organisation; it feels open-minded and is very professional. People from many different backgrounds come together here in a shared commitment to the environment and sustainable development.’

One important task for Jakobson will be to work on Mistra’s asset management. At her very first Board meeting in December, she was appointed by the Board as a member of the Asset Management Committee.

Anna Jakobsson

Anna Jakobson

‘Mistra is a true pioneer in sustainable investment, and has been a source of inspiration for many other stakeholders. I’m keen to help in developing Mistra’s fine work in this area.’

Jakobson has degrees in business economics and administration, having studied at INSEAD, as well as the Universities of both Uppsala and Stockholm. Since the early 1990s, she has worked in the banking and financial sector, holding several leading positions in Nordea’s investment operations, for example.

For the past two years or so, Jakobson has been running her own consultancy. Through it, she helps fund managers with assignments for sustainability analyses and dialogues with companies.

‘I’m convinced that sustainable activities not only contribute positively to society but are also better investments over time.’

For more than ten years, Mistra’s capital — which now amounts to some SEK 3.4 billion — has been managed in equity and fixed income funds based on sustainability criteria. The rise in the portfolio’s value over time shows that investments chosen according to environmental, social and ethical considerations can very well be combined with good returns.

‘Mistra’s asset management has an excellent starting point, but there are always opportunities for developing it further. One example might be to look for alternative investments with a stated strategy of making a positive impact in terms of one or more of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals,’ Jakobson says.

She also stresses the need for Mistra to maintain its visionary, long-term thinking. In financial circles, people sometimes refer to ‘stranded assets’ — that is, assets in companies at risk of losing their value in the long run. The clearest example today is companies that mine and burn coal.

‘But there are other businesses that, in 10–15 years’ time, aren’t going to have the same power of attraction as they do today, and it’s important to see that as early as possible. I think we’ll see examples of it in the food sector.’

As a Board member, Jakobson will also be involved in making decisions about Mistra’s future research initiatives. She is reluctant to say what kind of research she wants to see in the future, but she cites the Mistra Center for Sustainable Markets (Misum) at the Stockholm School of Economics (SSE), which was recently awarded a further five years’ funding, as an example of a Mistra initiative with a major impact.

‘Instead of focusing on a single area, Misum is trying to extend a sustainability perspective throughout SSE. The hope is that we’ll see a new generation of financial administrators and business managers with a whole new mindset.’

Jakobson is convinced that climate adaptation will remain an important area for Mistra for the foreseeable future, where both asset management and future research initiatives are concerned.

‘The Government’s climate policy action plan, presented in December, states that the climate will be integrated into all relevant policy areas. That requires continued development in the environmental field, to which Mistra-funded research can contribute.’

Mistra’s asset management and the work of the Asset Management Committee

Text: Henrik Lundström